Cats crash out in Columbia
Published 11:59 am Thursday, December 29, 2022
Things weren’t pretty for Kentucky at Missouri on Wednesday night.
The Wildcats (8-4, 0-1) fell behind early and never recovered in an 89-75 loss to the Tigers in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. It marked Kentucky’s worse margin of defeat in the league opener since a loss to Vanderbilt in 1965. The Wildcats fell to 1-4 in games played away from home.
Missouri (12-1, 1-0), one of the surprise teams the early season, raced out to a 15-5 lead and trailed for just 23 seconds in recording its first double-digit victory over the Wildcats.
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“You got to give them credit. That was what they did to us,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “Missouri would have beat a whole lot of teams the way they played tonight. They beat us pretty good.”
Oscar Tshiebwe led Kentucky with a double-double of 23 points and 19 rebounds, while Cason Wallace added 19 points and Sahvir Wheeler scored 12 points with eight assists.
The Wildcats had a hard time slowing down the high-scoring Tigers, who got 30 points from Kobe Brown in the win. Brown made 10 shots on 18 attempts, including four of his team’s 10 field goals from long range, in his second consecutive 30-point performance.
Kentucky had 14 turnovers and Missouri tallied 14 points off those miscues.
Prior to the contest, coach John Calipari hinted at the possibility of giving Adou Theiro more playing time and the freshman guard played 17 minutes, all in the second half. Theiro finished with five points, three rebounds and added one assist in a career-high performance.
The loss likely will drop the 19th-ranked Wildcats out of the Top 25 for the first time this year. UK is 7-0 at home, but just 1-4 in games played away from home, including an 0-2 mark in true road games (at Gonzaga and Missouri). The lone win away from Rupp Arena was a 73-69 decision over Michigan in London, England on Dec. 4. Kentucky faces rival Louisville on Saturday before jumping full throttle into the SEC schedule.
“I think we got a lot of work we need to do,” Tshiebwe said.